The Effect of Stereotype Threat on Spatial and Mathematical Performance in Young Girls Open Access

Boice, Katherine (2016)

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Recent concern about the underrepresentation of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has led to research demonstrating that the threat of confirming negative gender stereotypes, or "stereotype threat," may be a contributing factor to the sex differences in STEM performance and achievement, particularly in the domains of math and space. The current study examines the role of implicit gender stereotypes on mathematical and spatial performance in 6- and 7-year-old girls. Working memory and self-reported anxiety were measured to determine potential mechanisms of stereotype threat. Working memory ability moderated stereotype threat effects, with low-working memory girls performing worse than high-working memory girls when exposed to gender stereotype threat. Anxiety scores were not significantly correlated with performance. These findings offer important insight into potential mechanisms of stereotype threat and causes of the sex differences in spatial ability and the related deficit of women in STEM fields.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Method 6

Results 11

Discussion 17

References 22

Tables and Figures 26

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